What happened to climbing trees?


Get active this fall. MovNat coach Jaakko Savolahti urges us to get back to nature.

It all starts in kindergarten. Children are taught the invaluable skills of prolonged sitting, playing by defined rules, and being restricted to confined environments.

This definitely serves the needs of today’s society where we endure marathon sessions crouched over a desk, school book, or laptop. But according to personal trainer Jaakko Savolahti, it is far from what our bodies and minds expect and need.

One of Finland’s frontline advocates for the paleo (or caveman) diet and lifestyle, Savolahti is also a certified MovNat coach. Founded by Frenchman Erwan LeCorre, MovNat, which stands for Natural Movement, is a physical education system that runs the full range of natural human movement abilities.

According to the MovNat philosophy, common ailments such as chronic pain, depression, and lack of vitality are all symptoms of our inability to embrace species-typical movement.

“It immediately made sense to me from the evolutionary biological perspective, and felt as a natural way of training – literally,” says Savolahti.

Back to basics

MovNat is based on 12 categories of fundamental motion, from practicing optimal running to swimming, crawling, climbing, lifting heavy things, and so on. These are all basic skills that have become more or less foreign to many of us, even to those who consider themselves to be in top shape. 

Savolahti has a versatile background in sports and martial arts, yet he still learned many new skills from MovNat. But what about those of us with little or no athletic background?

“Natural movement is absolutely not restricted to athletes,” says Savolahti. “The beauty of this training is that it can be enjoyed at all levels due to its innate naturalness, and lack of superimposed rules and goals. It is suitable for all ages,” he says.

Perhaps pre-schoolers will soon be taught how to climb walls and hang in trees alongside their nursery rhymes.


TOP 3 outdoor trends

1 Barefoot bliss

Shoes are excellent for protecting foot soles, but stiff modern-day footwear passivates the foot’s small muscles. The growing range of barefoot shoes are an alternative for both urban and natural environments.


2 Extreme = Mainstream

Destinations like Himalaja, Kilimanjaro, Kappadokia used to be reserved for seasoned hikers only. Today many specialized agencies offer fully guided trips for first-timers of all ages and fitness levels.

3 Hors-piste running

Leave the pavement and go wild! Trail running and riding are great ways to get a versatile workout in nature. Why not give the Finnish forests a try, perhaps together with other enthusiasts?


Photo by Jukka Pinola

Text by Kati Heikinheimo
Photo by Pekka Holma
This article was originally published in Finnair's Blue Wings magazine (September 2015). 


Published September 9, 2015

Category: Collaboration